In education today we talk about preparing students to be critical thinkers so that as they enter adulthood they are prepared to learn, adapt, process information and make informed decisions. In Worthington this has been something we have believed in for many decades. That’s evidenced by the support for our U.S. Political Thought and Radicalism (everyone in Worthington calls it Poli-Rad) class offered as an elective for seniors at Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne.
Since 1975 Worthington has offered a Social Studies credit designed to study radicalism in the U.S. political system and has invited members of these groups to speak with our students in person or with today’s technology via Skype. The students study the speakers ahead of time, gather background and prepare questions for the speaker. In so doing they model respect for the beliefs of others and wrestle with the thoughts they are presented.
As a school district we don’t support or condone these groups but we are working to prepare our students to wrestle with difficult topics, to create tolerance for the beliefs of others and we model through the class how to be civil. These issues have been important since the founding of our country but they seem to be at the forefront of importance in today’s culture.
Last week Julie Carr Smyth from the Associated Press wrote a story about Poli-Rad that has been published by the San Francisco Chronicle, the NY Times and likely many other newspapers throughout the U.S. The story “High-schoolers get face time with extremists in class” highlights a class we’re very proud to support in Worthington. It’s part of what makes a Worthington education unique and something you can only get here.
It’s great to be in a school district that was forward thinking in 1975 and in a community that has supported this class even in the midst of the seemingly sporadic but consistent controversy that the class has created over the years.
Poli-Rad is an elective and thus we recognize it’s not for everyone. But it’s a uniquely Worthington elective that we’re very proud to offer our students!
-Trent Bowers, Superintendent